Friday, February 26, 2021

Living the dream from home


Working from home became the new normal in 2020, but for Gary Hewitt, it’s something he began earnestly working toward in 2016. A contractor with many skills under his work belt, Gary had just been involved in building a custom home for himself but now it was time to aim for the stars and build his dream home. That’s where he could showcase his lifetime of craftsmanship and skills in a home that would serve as his resume for future clients.

 Designing a home from scratch seemed like reinventing the wheel so he started researching plans and packages. It wasn’t long before he discovered the perfect partner was Home Hardware’s Beaver Homes & Cottages program. With a vast collection of plans to choose from, and then access to tried and true suppliers and a top-notch delivery system with a guaranteed package pricing strategy, it was a match made in heaven.

John Oliver at J&K Home Building Centre, Brantford, became Gary’s right hand man as they went through numerous architectural revisions, part of the comprehensive package. J&K is one of a trio of Home Hardware locations under the umbrella of Dealer-Owner Jesse Buchan who has brought together locations in Brantford, Burford and Paris. It puts a range of expertise within reach of customers when they need it.

Learning from his stepdad who harkened back to the Beaver Lumber days of 40 years ago, John Oliver had a history of thinking outside the homebuilding box, which made him a perfect partner for Gary’s project. All begin with a sky-high limit of dreams so that plans can be drawn and then amended to meet budgets and needs. “Then there are no inhibitions,” says John. “We know what the goals are from the beginning.”

Waiting in St. Thomas, there was a gorgeous piece of property on a ravine lot that stepped down toward a valley while absorbing the phenomenal view beyond, just waiting for Gary’s perfect house.

Not your standard Beaver home, Gary had definite ideas of what to include and was able to revise and revise and revise again to design his own version of the Thompson, a one-bedroom, one bath home with a wrap-around deck over a lower walkout. Taking the existing A-framed front, he made it four feet wider, added a two-car garage with a two-level master suite above. It was now the chalet-style home he’d been envisioning. And at the back of the house a two-tiered deck; one level for barbecuing off the living area, and one level for hot-tubbing.

But there were a few challenges. The ravine setting posed some delays. The site was within the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority so, although Home Hardware has its own in-house Architectural Solutions Group, local engineers were brought in to view the site, design the foundation and liaise with the conservation authority.

And while the foundation would have been a two-week building process in the early spring, the municipality’s road construction delays took them into the fall. And then the rain came. Through the delays, Gary was able to focus on staircase design and all the finishing details within the home – flooring, fixtures, trim -- decisions clients normally rush through on an as-needed basis. And then he went shopping -- accumulating his finishes and fixtures in a storage locker so he’d be ready.

With Beaver Homes & Cottages on call, they held back materials when there were delays and provided prompt delivery as soon as the project could move ahead.

There would be no guesswork involved in estimating exterior materials and lumber right through to the framing, siding, roofing, decks and stairs, and then to interior finishes that include drywall, doors, paint and trim. When each stage was completed, even through delays, supplies were delivered on time for the next step. The site had space limitations so supplies needed to be delivered more frequently, and the customized roof trusses needed to be lifted over existing power lines so a larger crane was brought in.

“I got more than I expected and I’m really glad I went with them,” says Gary. “If you’ve got plans and can’t follow through with suppliers and deliveries, you lose clients. They have the resources that most people don’t even know they need – architects, engineers. It’s all included.” As a contractor, Gary found the supply estimates were right on the money.

With his own renovation experience, Gary upgraded much of the interior finishes. He called on his own resources while relying on Home Hardware for other finishes like trim packages (with custom work done by the same supplier). For the wrap-around deck, now a double tiered deck, the glass panels and railing were provided by an existing supplier. John Oliver explains, “Our suppliers were pleased to step outside the box to take it up a few levels to show the range of their offerings.” Gary included details like LED lights along ceiling mouldings, and customized barn door sliders. There’s a waterspout for pots right above the custom gas stovetop, elliptical windows and the details go on.

“It really increased my passion for building to see so many others invested in this project,” says Gary of the experience. He forged an even stronger bond with the Home Hardware family as his company, Sunset Dreams Home Building Services, has partnered to have his services offered as a project manager/contractor for those embarking on their own Beaver custom home. He’s even got a travel trailer outfitted and is ready to set up on-site to be hands-on for these builds.

With the unavoidable delays, this was a 16-month timeframe. But this was a dream home, on a dream piece of property and worth every minute of the process. Any regrets? Anything he wished he’d done differently? Not a thing, says Gary. When you’ve spent your life working toward your dream home, you’ve got every detail memorized.

The Thompson is a perfect example of a home that showcases the ideas of one client and combines them with the flexibility that Home Hardware offers to all of its customers.


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  2. Look at that double deck, big roofing and huge windows!!!
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